Editorial: A little mercy for Anti-Asian YouTube ranter?

Alexandra Wallace

We took our time in responding to the Alexandra Wallace anti-Asian YouTube video because we wanted to see the whole story unfold before casting judgment. About a week and a half ago, Wallace, a UCLA student, publicly posted a video blog on YouTube. It was meant to be a humorous rant about what she’s observed about Asian students on the UCLA campus.

What it actually was, though, was offensive to many. She described her peers as “hoards of Asians” and complained about Asians talking on their cell phones in the library. She apparently realized that some of her peers were checking in on their relatives in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — and in her video, Wallace comments that her peers should take their calls outside, as to not disturb others in the library with their problems. To top it off, Wallace mockingly acted out how she sees Asians talking on their phones: “Ohh. Ching chong ling long ting tong.”

Her video went viral and the whole country saw it. Wallace reportedly received death threats over it. Many called for her expulsion from UCLA. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block stated that he was appalled by the video, but also called for greater civility on campus.

Wallace later issued an apology. “Clearly, the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.”

In the end, UCLA decided not to subject Wallace to any disciplinary action because her video was protected by free speech and did not violate the school’s code of conduct.  However, Wallace decided to withdraw from UCLA due to the harassment she received as a result of the video.

We waited to respond to Wallace’s video because we were hesitant to condemn her publicly. In moments like these, it’s easy to lash back and attack people, but is that how we move forward and gain the understanding of others? No. In these times, it’s much better for everyone to be empathetic.

Yes, we thought Wallace’s video was offensive and extremely insensitive, but we don’t think her actions were malicious enough to warrant death threats, the public posting of her personal information, or the harassment that her family received. She will feel the repercussions of what she has done for many years — her future potential employers will do background checks. This video and all the editorials written against her will come to light, over and over again.  We don’t need to pile on more punishment.

So what is the right way to react? A lesson can be learned from many young Asian Americans who responded with humor instead of anger. Some posted parody video blogs of their own. Others wrote songs. Some have taken the opportunity to start calm discussions about stereotypes and what they mean. ♦

17 Responses to “Editorial: A little mercy for Anti-Asian YouTube ranter?”

  1. Jim (korean) says:

    I am more concerned to hear that other asians are issuing death threats over this. Please stop. There are enough ignorant groups of people out there hurting othere people.

  2. kai says:

    Its obvious this white girl needs to reinforce the white is right mentality.
    In her mind, the only people who deserves the right to speak in public in this country excludes asian people.
    She’s obviously an anti-asian bigot and her extended family are probably connected to the racist south or participated in one of Pacific wars. Spin the whole situtation around and put her in an all white library and I’m sure she won’t complain at all as she did in her youtube rant.
    She’s kind of bloated and ugly anyways so this must be one of the many reasons why she needs to find somebody or a group of people to dump on.

  3. Kortni says:

    I do think her actions were completely out of order. As an Asian American, I can’t say I was extremely offended (though this may be the racist comments I already recieve at my school weekly) because I know she wasn’t speaking about the whole race, but the way she went about it was completely uncalled for. First, she insists that she is polite while the Asian ones are the ones that are being rude. Then she makes herself seem high-and-mighty because ‘in AMERICA we don’t answer our cell phones in the library’. The way she sterotypes these people for no reason but to have content for a video on youtube is disgusting. Yes, her actions called for more discipline than she recieved. BUT, she does have the freedom in this country to say and do what she wants, as ignorant as those statements might be. So, no, she does not deserve to be killed or hurt or harassed more than she already has. The fact that she was the one that withdrew because other students were so disgusted by her behaviour makes me realize that not all Americans are scum, just the ones that become famous that way.

  4. Cra says:

    Crazy… You guys just wanna be politically correct with regards to this incident. The fact remains, she angered a lot of people by spewing her ignorance and the fact that she apologize to the campus not to the people she offended still shows how big of an idiot she is. It is true that we Asians are a noisy bunch but there was lot going on at that time that we cannot help ourselves. The least that she could have done was to be considerable or at least practice discretion on her rants. Speaking of stereotyping, she didn’t do blondes justice with her stupidity.

  5. Maija says:

    No, this girl does not deserve mercy. She went out of her way to exploit the death of thousands of people and massive destruction in Japan because she knew she would get attention. She’s just getting exactly what she wanted. As a junior at UCLA, it’s idiotic for her to try and argue she didn’t understand what she w3as doing. She did understand. That’s exactly why she did this!

  6. Professor C. says:

    This is one article I definitely enjoyed reading. I can appreciate the intelligence with which the author handled this issue. We can all definitely learn a little something here. Before passing judgement, one must first consider all of the facts. This author does that very well. As for the situation, it is an unfortunate one. Alexandra has officially apologized for her actions, which she agrees were insensitive and overly harsh. However, we as a society must understand that she was expressing her freedom of speech as is guaranteed in this country. Do we have to like it? Not at all. Do we have to respect it? Absolutely. Do I agree with her points and “arguments”? Not in the least. But, I do understand her frustration and need to vent her frustrations. Could she have found a better outlet for her unrestrained emotional outburst? Indeed. It is obvious to this educator that there is no accounting for tact with some people. That being said, I do not hate this woman for what she has done. I do however, bow my head in disappointment that she has not learned a better way of expressing herself. Considering her own admission of what her mother taught her, and the fact that she is attending a very prestigious University, I would expect something much, much more decent. All we can do at this point is take the lesson she is learning to heart and use it to help us all grow as a society. I encourage you all to rethink your actions before putting them on display here or anywhere that is in the public eye. Take care and enjoy.

    • Maija says:

      Professor–“Freedom of Speech” only means the government cannot make laws to curtail speech. It does not mean others don’t have the right to respond to the ignorant and arrogant words hatefully spewed by another. This girl said these things because she knew she could gain notoriety in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Japan. She was simply exploiting the lives of thousands so she could have 15 minutes of fame. She is getting exactly what she wanted. I see no issue here.

      • dave says:

        i was thinking the same thing. freedom of speech means the right to express an opinion or belief without penalty from government or organizations. it does not mean you can bash people. in most states she could be taken to court for what she said. the speach in the video is not protected by any means. when you start harassing others your protection for free speech ends.

  7. subadra says:

    Alexandra Wallas speaks out of mere frustration after so much of patience. I totally understand where she is coming from. I am a non white middle aged professional immigrant woman coming from a certain part of Asia and have gone through Britain before landing here. Sorry, I have observed how immigrants in this country could be rude and inconsiderate to others.
    In my experience most Americans are very tolerant, patient and selfless humanitarians. Immigrants do know this fact very well and do abuse their civilized nature. In my opinion people should speak in English, which is the language that everybody understands, in public places and not shout in their mother tongue wherever they go. And no way shout in a library. “Fellow immigrants, please reserve your native language to your family and to your private community. This is very annoying to other immigrants also as much as to Americans.” Sorry, Alexandra had to come out and show these immigrants etiquette and manners which they should have learned as children otherwise.
    Yes, there are cultural differences among us, but cultural issues should not impact others in anyway.If that happens, it should not be exercised in public. Keep it to the household or to the community. Remember this is United States of America and not your home country. “when you go to Rome you do as Romans do. You do not ask Romans to change to your ways.”
    Going to student quarters with entourage of family members every week end and shouting in their language in hall ways is very annoying and not palatable to other resident students. Furthermore cooking ethnic food in quarters causes even more distress to other students. That should have been considered. Instead they should have cooked their ethnic food at home/packed and brought to the student.
    I had two of my own children go through college an grad school, I always respected other students and the American culture/and how things are done in this setting or my children would have corrected me.
    It looks to me even if these overseas families did understand the system, they did not care to change. They wanted America to change to their ways. How self centered were they? I feel it also depends on the social class of the family.

    YES, GETTING INTO CALIFORNIAN UNIVERSITIES EX: UCLA, STANFORD IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS HE/SHE IS IN A CERTAIN ETHNIC GROUP. IT IS A FACT WHICH I WITNESSED WITH MY OWN CHILDREN WHO WERE ABLE TO GET INTO IV LEAGUE SCHOOLS OTHERWISE. THERE IS VERY LITTLE DIVERSITY THERE.
    Thank You for reading my opinion on this matter.

    • Maija says:

      It is fair to be annoyed by Asians talking in the library–but Asians are not the only ones who do this. Many different people do all kinds of annoying things. People are free to complain about it. BUT, what made this video offensive was the fact this girl knew she could get attention by exploiting the tragedy in Japan. This wasn’t just a coincidence–she clearly calculated for this. The timing of the release of her video and her complaints makes it unquestionable. No one should be defending a girl who exploits the death of thousands for her own 15 minutes of fame.

  8. me says:

    Who cares? I’ve been called cracker, honkey, white boy, white meat, etc., and not once did I give a ****. What she said only shows her ignorance, why let some college kid bother you? Besides, if we’re being honest some of what she said is simply true. Just like whites annoy us with their valley talk, and blacks annoy us with ebonics, Asians aren’t some super race incapable of being annoying or wrong.

    Enjoy life, let others worry about their own ignorance…and stop using the library like it’s a club! Gosh.

    • Scott Dailey says:

      No one is taking issue with Alex’s objection to the inappropriate noise in the library. And your being a white person who has been called names like cracker and honky are no more an appropriate way of addressing you, than Alex’s approach to addressing asians in her school’s library. That you’ve accepted that people will occasionally refer to you by stereotypical euphemisms isn’t a testament in your tolerance, it’s a testament in your acceptance of that which you could stand to be a little outraged about. Cultural intolerance is always unacceptable, most especially when it manifests as seemingly casual mocking or ‘harmless’ name calling. I find your dismissive and narrow response to Alex’s actions lazy and irresponsible. Maybe consider thinking more deeply through this issue before arriving at such a capricious conclusion. Mark Twain once said stupid people are happier. But you’ve got a choice here.

    • Maija says:

      It’s not the Asian stereotypes that make this video so offensive. It’s the fact–based on the time she released the video–she was clearly looking to exploit the tragedy in Japan for her own notoriety. She’s just getting what she wanted.

    • Alan says:

      Man you need to use your brains, first of all you need to accept the fact that being racist is already wrong, oh come on, so your telling me that you would like to hear those names you’ve listed over youtube? I bet if someone said those words though, to a white person, you would be ****** so shut your mouth while your at it. yet that is still not the point, she is saying it aloud to the world to hear. Do you hear that? huh? I mean if she kept it to herself like everyone, well almost everyone else does instead of making a blog or a video about how a race such as Asian not being able to fend for themselves and trying and failing to act as Asians. If she hadn’t posted she would’ve been fine and you know what she deserves this punishment though just not the death threats going around

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